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Japan-based new religious movement founded by Asahara Shoko (b. 1955 as Matsumoto Chizuo) in 1987. It contained elements of Hinduism and Buddhism and was founded on the millenarian expectation of a series of disasters that would bring an end to this world and inaugurate a new cosmic cycle. In 1995 its members released nerve gas into the Tokyo subway system, killing 12 people and injuring some 5,500. The group has been linked with other nerve-gas incidents and violent crimes. It claimed some 50,000 members, mostly in Russia, at the time of the gas attack. Membership collapsed in the wake of the attack, but it had grown to more than 1,500 members by the early 21st century. The group changed its name to Aleph in 2000. More than 10 AUM members were sentenced to death for their involvement in the gassing incident, including Asahara, who in 2004 was found guilty of having masterminded the attack. In 2007 Asahara's successor, Joyu Fumihiro, left Aleph and founded a new organization, Hikari no Wa (Ring of Light).
Variants of ALEPH
Aleph formerly (1987–2000) AUM Shinrikyo
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Aleph, visit Britannica.com.
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